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First timers slope story…
Posted by Tom Lippincott on Mar 19, 2007, 00:04

First timers slope story…                                                                          


My slope adventure started off of all places on Youtube. Being a yacht broker in Maryland in February can tend to expand the clock and Youtube is a good way to fill in the blank hours between work minutes. I have flown r/c planes on and off for the past ten years and even started with a Gentle Lady but until I saw a slope soaring video the other day I had no interest in getting back into sailplanes… that has all changed! I live on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake and the video got me wondering if I could find a slope worth flying. The good news, using Google earth and an internet topo map site I was able to kill a couple hours and locate a promising site with a shear 25ft cliff, no trees  a NW exposure and the best part …only 5 minutes from the office!. I reached the site and got the owners blessing and knew as I drove out across the corn field towards the cliff that I had found a gem,  The bad part came apparent when I walked to the edge… if the gravity component over came the lift or skill component there would be no retrieval. I don’t actually own a sailplane anymore but I am pretty good at crashing powered planes and have a garage full of pilot error, so in I went…twenty minutes later I came out with a foam and duct tape modified  .40 size trainer less engine and trimmed with all available lead sinkers…I was ready to try slope soaring!  I charged her up and the next morning awoke to find the predicted NW front had rolled through and it would blow all day! I arrived at the flying site to find a steady 20kts gusting to 35. A bald eagle was over the ridge holding altitude with its wings swept back! I knew this would be interesting. I banded up my new “sloper” and stood 20 paces back from the edge of the cliff,  this cliff is so sharp that I was  having trouble holding the plane because the rotor was so strong coming from behind! I doubt I would have been able to toss a good plane that day but I was fully prepared to throw this one away so I chucked her!  She jumped straight up a hundred feet and immediately was 100 feet behind me. The one thing I know about powered planes when there directly over you they are hard to fly…didn’t matter much because this one was blown out of the lift and came down a couple hundred yards behind the launch. I realized that this plane was too slow to penetrate this much wind, so I decided there was one thing to do …start looking for ballast! Taping my leatherman slightly forward of the cg I solved one problem but created another, now I was risking something I really didn’t want to lose! Rational won the argument when I realized I drop at least two leatherman a year overboard …this way I’ll have fun losing it! So I walked over to the edge again for another toss. I waited for a lull and heaved her over the cliff and up she went, but this time I could keep her out in front, she settled in at about 75-100 feet, boy what a thrill! I slowly started running her back and forth getting a feel for the lift zone and after about 5 minutes in control she was finally blown out by a huge gust, but I was able to get her down in one piece. A couple more flights that day I managed to loop her, fly with a bald eagle and ended the day with out any toothpicks! Not bad for the first time out playing on the edge!

I can’t wait until my new sloper arrives!

Tom Lippincott
Chestertown, Maryland

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